I was introduced to Louise Doughty when she read an excerpt of Apple Tree Yard on Radio 4’s Open Book with Mariella Frostrup, but it has taken me almost a year to get round to reading it because boring things like university and adulthood kept getting in the way. I’m perpetually on the lookout for crime thrillers to immerse myself in for a few days but this book was a little deeper than the trashy murder mysteries I typically tear through.
Unravelling the tale of Yvonne Carmichael, an unravelling middle-aged geneticist who is embarking on an affair with a mysterious government official, the author has created such a subtly nuanced main character that I sympathetically felt her butterflies, her tension and her insecurities. Haven’t we all suddenly found ourselves inexplicably and dangerously malleable to the will of someone new and captivating?
Part courtroom procedural, part lusty thriller, Apple Tree Yard benefits from the subtle interplay between the protagonist’s known reality and her hopeful fantasies, as unwelcome truths emerge during a trial in which YC and her enigmatic lover both stand charged with murder. Doughty treads the well-worn path of shifting time-frames, but it is not laborious or confusing. And the twist; although I had my suspicions, the reveal was timely and I felt satisfied with the climax of the story.
Also… SPOILER ALERT: you know how movies and some books have a little box on the back with indicators of themes? Readers of this book should be forewarned of the graphic rape scene that plays out in explicit, harrowing detail. Trigger warnings on books should be a thing! I have a strong stomach for violence in books, but even I needed a break after that particular scene.
Born to be wild,